What I’m Reading: Ghost of a Gamble by J.E. McDonald

Book Review: Ghost of a Gamble by J.E. McDonald

This review is a little different than the young adult titles I’ve mainly reviewed in the past, but I’m a broad reader and earlier this year I decided I would post more about everything I read, not just YA titles. Not that I’ve been finding much time to post reviews due to the day job, but I’m here now, and I’m back with a review of a brand new paranormal romance.

I’m lucky enough to be friends with the author and was provided a free copy of Ghost of a Gamble to review, and I’m so glad because I loved this book! This is J.E. McDonald’s debut novel and fans of paranormal romance won’t be disappointed.

Bree can’t hold down a steady job, and when she once again finds herself unemployed she snatches up work with Zack in the hopes she’ll be able to pay her rent. Zack is mysterious and hot and a paranormal investigator and Bree has no idea what she’s in for.

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Ghost of a Gamble is full of twists and turns and bursting with a haunting atmosphere that I loved. J.E. McDonald has a great sense of humor and smooth writing and plot make it easy to keep reading and hard to put down the book. Ghost of a Gamble is also the first book in the Wickwood Chronicles, names after the fictional town where this book is set. If Ghost of a Gamble is a sign of things to come, then I’ve very glad there will be more books in this series.

Ghost of a Gamble is out today, and if you want to check it out, just follow the links below.

Amazon: smarturl.it/Wickwood1Amz                                                                              B&N: smarturl.it/Wickwood1BN                                                                                      Kobo: smarturl.it/Wickwood1Kobo                                                                              iBooks: smarturl.it/Wickwood1iBooks

To find out more about J.E. McDonald, check out her website at

https://www.jemcdonald.net

 

What I’m Reading: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I had this book on my shelf for about a year before my mother told me that she had read it and that she liked it. As a library technician, my mother knows books. So I knew I should pick it up and read it soon, and I’m glad I did.

The Bear and the Nightingale takes place in historic Russia and is full of folk and fairy tales. It consumes you, bringing you into the past and a deeply detailed life of a family struggling to survive the winter. Before reading this book, I vaguely remembered the tale of the Bear and the Nightingale from my childhood love of fairy tales, and I think I thought that this book would be as simple and straightforward as a five-page fairy tale, but it was much more intricate than that.

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I love the characters, especially Vasya, the strong heroine. But the book was slow to start and took me a good fifty to seventy pages to get immersed in, but once I was over that hump, the book flew by. I can’t wait to read the next one (I just have to wait for my mom to finish with it first!)

Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale?

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo hasn’t let me down yet. Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows, was just as good as the first book. I love the rich cast of characters, and how she delved deeper into their psyche’s in this book.

Crooked Kingdom is again set in the Grishaverse. Technically, it’s the fifth book, but Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom can be read without having read the original Grisha Trilogy. For a more mature reader of YA, I might recommend skipping the original trilogy. Crooked Kingdom is darker than the original trilogy. It’s gritty and real and describes in breathtaking detail life on the streets of Ketterdam.

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This book, like Six of Crows, is a heist book. A gang of criminals, a job that needs to be done, will they be able to do it? This kind of dazzling plot keeps me reading and enjoying the book the whole way through. However, it did feel a tad bit longer than I like, but that may be because I’m favoring a slightly shorter read at the moment. But for fans of YA fantasy, this is a must-read.

And while I was reading it, I also made myself this sweet double-sided book cover to keep my cats from eating books.

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Have you read Crooked Kingdom?

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

Best Edgy, Completed Young Adult Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction Series

Sometimes it sucks waiting for the end of a story. Other times, it only serves to build tension. But if you’re looking for an edgy, completed young adult series (a series you don’t have to wait years to read the ending to), then look no further than this list of completed series of young adult (arguably New Adult, in some cases) paranormal and fantasy fiction series.

  1. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater – This series follows a group of high school students as they navigate the ley lines around their hometown. I enjoyed this series because it doesn’t just focus on the teens, but the adults too, including one very interesting hitman. IMG-1660
  2. The Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor – This series follows a young girl, whom, it turns out, isn’t so young, and her discovery that the world she thinks she’s from might not be the worlds she’s actually from after all. A young adult series with very few characters who aren’t actually really old, this books has plenty of mature themes.IMG_1024
  3. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – To be honest, I haven’t totally finished this series since the conclusion, Kingdom of Ash, was just released in September of last year, but I plan on finishing the series soon. This series is set in a rich fantasy world created by Sarah J. Maas, whose rutting is dark and cutting and is definitely on the upper end of Young Adult.img_1871
  4. The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey – This series is set in the human world, and revolves around a secret battle between two races unknown to humankind, except for one girl who was adopted into this world as a child. Full of hidden secrets and surprises around corners, Melissa Grey is a great writer who gets deep into character. 63fd4-photo-26
  5. The Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios- If you want edgy, this is it. This series is arguably pretty darn adult. There are very adult themes in these books (abuse, imprisonment, slavery), but also lots of sexual tension and magical adventure. If you love the idea of a gypsy trying to break free of her bottle, this might be the series for you. IMG_5116

What’s your favorite series?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The final book in the Grisaverse Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was everything I expected it to be—almost. Same great writing, same lovable characters, broken hearts and action and adventure. But there was on thing I didn’t get, and from what I’ve read of other reviews, other people seem to feel much the same way. If you want to know more, scroll past the picture, but if you don’t stop reading now.

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The one thing I felt this book didn’t deliver to me on was the ending. I was expecting much of what happened. But I was expecting/hoping for all of it to end much more tragically than it did. Maybe I’m just all dark and twisty inside, but sometimes a happy ending seems to me to be too happy, almost forced, and almost not realistic. But also, I was just hoping for a different pairing at the end than what I got.

Still, I love this magical world and all of the unique elements to Grishaverse. I’ll probably read the other Grishaverse books. I hear that the other books are even better. Maybe I’ll even start one this weekend.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Book Two of the GrishaVerse trilogy starts off pretty much where the first book ends. Now, this book begins with one of my pet peeves. If you haven’t read the book yet, or even finished the first book of the GrishaVerse, you may not want to read the rest of this review below, as I’m going to share this particular pet peeve of mine. But don’t worry, after the beginning, the book did get better.

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This book began with a pet peeve of mine. It’s a particularly common trope in fantasy: end book one with the hero/heroine breaking free, and begin book 2 with them instantly being recaptured. I find this a complete waste of plot, as often, absolutely nothing happens when the hero is free. Instead, it’s used a device to end book one in a ‘happy ever after’, just in case the publisher never releases book two. I really dislike this plot device. However, as I said above, the book does get better after the beginning.

Alina grows more as a character in this one, and the story moves from Alina having choices made for her (ie. capture and release), to her making choices. But the best part about this book was Nikolai. I love Nikolai. He is by far my favorite character in this series. I wish there could have been more of him. That’s all I’m going to say. Read this book for Nikolai. End of.

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

GrishaVerse is one of those series that you can’t stop hearing about. I was able to borrow the original GrishaVerse trilogy from a friend a while back. The books are told by the perspective of Alina Starkov, a teen-aged orphan who, surprise, turns out to have magical powers. While this series starts like many a fantasy novel before it, Leigh Bardugo manages to create a fairly fresh fantasy landscape with strong, believable characters.

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The first novel of the trilogy sets up the world of the Grisha, the magic wielders  in this universe. Borrowing on Russian history, culture, and mythology, Shadow and Bone has a fresh appeal for those used to reading more ‘European’ type fantasy. What I liked best about Shadow and Bone, however, was the play between Alina and the Darkling. This book had twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and Bardugo did a good job of keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think?

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Wicked King by Holly Black

You know, I’m pretty sure that in all my life I will never be able to say enough about Holly Black and her fantastic writing. I grew up loving the idea of Fairies (the big, human-ish ones that we now call the Fae, in order distinguish them from the tiny little ones with wings (which I also love, but that’s a tale for another day)). And Holly Black really brings them to life for me.

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The second book of the Folk of the Air trilogy is perhaps better than the first one, The Cruel Prince, which I reviewed last year, and if I have to give a reason for this it is because in The Wicked King we get to see the underwater fae, and if you’ve read my books, you know that I love underwater kingdoms—they are just so exotic! (also, Hello! Aquaman!) Jude continues to be a strong kick-a** hero, who isn’t afraid of a good fight. What could be better? I can’t wait for the next book.

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished this series a while ago but I am just so behind on my book blogging! Long story short, I love The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. In fact, The Raven Cycle Series is definitely in my top 5 favorite YA Fantasy Series.

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The Raven King was a fantastic ending to this series. While I didn’t love Blue Lily, Lily Blue, The Raven King was the wrap up that I was looking for. And, if you listen to the books on audio, you also get some really cool themed music.

Have you read The Raven Cycle yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished this book a long time ago, but am terribly behind on book reviews, so you’ll actually see what I thought of the entire Raven Cycle series in very short order (hint: I loved it).

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The Dream Thieves, picked up right where The Raven Boys left off. If you haven’t read the first book of this series, you should do so right now. You can find my write-up on the first book here. Don’t worry, my reviews are never long because I absolutely detest spoilers (I’m the kind of person who sticks fingers in my ears and hums so that I don’t hear anything I don’t want to know). What I will say is that The Dream Thieves is just as good as The Raven Boys, and expands more deeply into the main characters (the book is shared among many), and the magic of the world. It’s beautiful.

I actually listened to The Dream Thieves as an audiobook, and it was fabulously read by Will Paton, who does the entire series. This is great for continuity. Paton is great at voices without over doing it, and I can listen to the book without feeling dozy (Although that might also because of the fast-paced adventure).

5/5 Stars.

JEH